Have your say

Do you think investigations into institutional child
abuse are handled fairly? Are former staff in children’s homes
accused of crimes they did not commit?

Have your say by clicking here


Last week’s Have your say discussion was about the role
of fathers. We asked should fathers be given more say in decisions
made about their families when social services are involved? Are
fathers treated as second class citizens?

These are the responses we received:

It was interesting to read your article (
click here
to read the article from 4 April edition of
Community Care) in relation to the role of fathers and how
they are engaged by social services, as a professional I would
agree that social services are slow to realise the positive impact
that fathers can have in the lives of their children. Often they
are involved in a superficial way or completely ignored, this I
feel is reflected in the lack of services that are specifically
aimed at men in relation to their role as fathers, and would agree
that the current provision that is provided in family centres is
aimed primarily at mothers.

This I feel, however, is not just an attitude that is held by
qualified staff, my own experience of supervising a student
recently suggests that research, such as that referred to in your
article, is not being passed on in the colleges thereby
perpetuating the myth that fathers are not important or valued when
it comes to the care of children.

It is also clear that the legal system does discriminate in
favour of mothers when it comes to issues of contact and residence,
more significantly for the social work profession however, is the
fact that the court will often base its decision on the
recommendation of social workers who complete welfare

John McCosker

Families need fathers at www.fnf.org.uk is a
good organisation for getting advice on child

Adrian Scott

Yes, fathers are treated as second class
citizens, in most areas of decision-making.

Ideally of course both parents will be together throughout a
child’s development. If that’s not possible, then the parents will
co-operate fully with each other, sharing access and
responsibility, including decision making, to the maximum effect,
for the benefit of themselves, and the children.

It appears that because the mother carried the baby within her
body, that subjugates the father to 2nd place. In today’s society,
fathers are just as capable to take care of children, and love
them, as is a mother. Wake up England! Just because a mother
carried the baby doesn’t make her a better parent.

In married relationships, when there is a battle over custody
during divorce, the mother most often gets custody, and then
proceeds to use the children as a weapon. she does this by
disrupting access (by simply making other arrangements for the
children, such as enrolling them into clubs, by taking them away on
trips, or worst of all, moving home far away). When this happens,
not much is done about it. I think when the mother is disruptive in
that way, custody should be transferred to the father.

In unmarried relationships, the father comes second. Simply put,
if the mother decides not to co-operate with any arrangements made
as far as access for the father to the children is concerned,
there’s not much done about it.

I think when the mother is disruptive in that way, custody
should be transferred to the father. The law needs to be evened out

Daughters are routinely placed with mothers. Sons are routinely
placed with mothers (but occasionally with the father). There is no
evidence to suggest that a daughter who is placed with her father
is penalised in any way – developmentally or psychologically. There
is an old saying, “A daughter needs a mothers influence.” Ideally,
yes, but as far as it being ‘necessary’, no. The sex of the parent
should not be an issue at all.

As a side issue, men in general are already prejudiced by
societies ingrained belief that they are the only persons who
sexually abuse children. Ok, so they are the majority abusers, but
the fact is that current ‘knowledge’ strongly suggest that perhaps
25 to 30 per cent of abusers are women (but they are not often
reported by the abused, etc, etc). But society is not informed of
that. So parents in general warn their children to beware of
‘strange men’, but not ‘strange women’. They actually encourage
their child to run to a woman if they are worried.

Rather they would better protect their children by discussing
with them ‘strange behaviour’ by men AND women.

It’s about time schools, and other organisations, brought
parents and children up to date.

David (single, no children – yet)

Youth worker and child protection awareness trainer

Fathers are definitely ignored more than
mothers. Foster fathers are also often excluded from discussion
about foster children by a largely female SSD workforce. Even SSD
paperwork frequently omits to advise that there is a male

foster carer referring only to the female carer. Children
benefit from having appropriate male role models. Irresponsible
fathers exist, and ignoring responsible ones fails to help adjust
the importance men have in child care.


I think fathers should be included in
decisions made about their children. I believe that often they are
not engaged by social workers because of the difficulties of
out-of-hours visiting. Consulting fathers is often a problem
because of the perceived vulnerability of female workers working
with male parents where the male parent may have a history of
violence. This problem could be met by providing office premises
out of working hours where chaperonage or support could be offered
by other staff. This is not an option in most

Lydia Savage

Yes, fathers should have more say. Agencies
don’t appear to be very good at collaborating with families,
especially with dads. Just because dads appear difficult to engage
doesn’t mean that dads aren’t interested – it’s more likely that
they’re more likely to be on the receiving end of a whole lot of
gender insensitive intervention.

They just need to be asked (like mums and kids) about what they
want from us.”

David Steare

Yes, fathers are ignored as carers a lot of
the time resulting in children being removed when they should not


Yes, but only if they are willing to be
involved with their family and take responsibility and make
informed decisions. Absent fathers should not be involved in
decisions made about their families only to pass judgements on
ex-partners and their children and extended


Yes, I think that fathers are often treated as
second class citizens and disregarded especially if they do not
have parental responsibility. If a father is regularly involved in
the care/life of his child then even if he does not have
responsibility he should be involved in all aspects of social
services work with the family and his views sought and listened

If educated articulate families such as that are blissfully
unaware of responsibility why is it expected that the vulnerable
needy clients that we work with would have any idea of the concept
of responsibility, and the consequences of not having/acquiring

Too often males are excluded and not made part of the process of
our intervention with their children. Unfortunately sometimes even
if the father does have responsibility then he is still not fully
included in the processes as much as he has the right to be.

I am afraid that in the majority of the cases social workers
appear to have a ‘blind spot’ where fathers are concerned and only
work with the mothers and their families.

Obviously if the father has no contact with the child then
consideration has to be given to involving him in the process, but
I do think that enquiries should be made with him as to why he has
no contact. If social services are involved they are maybe
contemplating removing the child from the mother, then the father
or his family could well want to be assessed as carers or to be
involved. Too often the father and his family are not just ‘written
off’ because he does not have responsibility, and is not actively
involved. He has the right to be told and to make an informed
decision as to whether he does now want to be involved. Obviously
it all depends on the circumstances, each case has to be
considered, but too often no consideration is even given by the
social worker involved.

As you can see it is an area I feel quite strongly about. Men
are often criticised for their lack of involvement in the care of
their children. Is that because they have been effectively

Thanks for the opportunity to have my say.

Lyn Newberry








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